Israeli Court OKs Gay Divorce
An Israeli court recently granted a divorce for a gay couple -- a historic move that has some experts speculating that the ruling will greatly impact the country since gay marriage has yet to be legalized, Reuters reports.
Although gay marriage in Israel has yet to be legalized, the Mideast country does recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in countries where such marriages are legal. Israel, however, now will recognize divorces among same-sex partners: A family court near Tel Aviv allowed Uzi Even, 72, and his partner of 23 years, Amit Kama, 52, to a legal divorce.
The couple’s lawyer, Judith Meisels, said on Tuesday that the country’s Interior Ministry still has the chance to veto the decision but it would have to go to court to do so. Six years ago, a high court ruled that the same ministry, which at the time was led by an ultra-Orthodox cabinet member, had to recognize gay marriages that were conducted in other parts of the world and ordered the government to list a gay couple that tied the knot in Canada as married.
"The irony is that while this is the beginning of a civil revolution, it’s based on divorce rather than marriage," Kama, a professor at an Israeli university, told Reuters. The men, both Israeli citizens, married in Toronto eight years ago, shortly after Ontario legalized gay marriage. It took several months for officials to finalize the men’s divorce, however, since they could not meet Canada’s residency requirements to file for divorce there.
Experts say that the couple’s divorce has not only set a precedent for gay rights in Israel but also for Israeli straight couples looking to split up. Until now, heterosexual couples had to turn to rabbis to dissolve marriages.
"This is the first time in Israeli history a couple of Jews are obtaining a divorce issued by an authority other than a rabbinical court, and I think there is significant potential here for straight couples" Zvi Triger, deputy dean of the Haim Striks law school near Tel Aviv, told Reuters.
"From my point of view, even if the state appeals and we have to keep going down this road, the verdict shows the beginning of the undermining of the rabbinate," Kama told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. "I am very happy that we may have made a breakthrough," he added.